- Council of State raises hope
By Lawrence Olaoye & Mashe Umar Gwamna, Abuja, & Mustapha Isah Kwaru in Maiduguri
The Deputy National Mobilization Leader of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign group, Yusuf Sheriff, yesterday expressed worry that 85 days after the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Government Girls
Secondary School, Chibok, Borno state, the federal government has yet to make any credible statement on the whereabouts of the captives.
Contrary to that position, however, the National Council of State, the apex advisory body of the government of the federation, has raised hope that victory is in sight on the rescue of the Chibok schoolgirls.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday in Maiduguri, Sheriff emphasised that, in the last 69 days that his movement has been sitting out at the Unity Fountain in Maitama, Abuja, to mount its campaign for freedom for the captives, there has not even been positive sign to show that the government made serious efforts at finding the missing girls.
He called on Nigerians and the international community to become more alive to the tragedy that had befallen the Chibok girls, as a way of piling pressure on government to rescue the abductees.
According to him, what the group has seen in the last 85 days was the escalation of frequent attacks on Nigerians, with more mass killings, more abductions and mass destruction of properties of innocent citizens in every part of Borno state.
“Today, 8th July, 2014, is 85 days since Chibok girls were abducted; our security chiefs informed the nation that rescue plans are at an advanced stage. We called this press conference today (yesterday) to express our deep concern that in spite of numerous assurances, the Chibok girls have not been rescued”, Sheriff said.
He also said, contrary to claims in some quarters that the movement was only concerned about the Chinok girls, the group also stood for all voiceless people, irrespective of religion, tribe, sex and location from Borno and other neighbouring states.
Meanwhile, reports from Chibok indicated that the federal government has withdrawn the Army Platoon stationed in the community yesterday, despite the incessant attacks, threats and escalation of insurgency in the community.
This was disclosed, vide a phone conversation by the leader of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, Abuja chapter.
The chairman, Hosea Tsambido, who expressed his sadness over the situation, emphasised that because the military had since not met people’s expectations, policemen and vigilante groups stepped in, keeping the Chibok community on alert.
“When the insurgents come to community, the soldiers usually stay in distance and after the insurgents finish their activities, they then tend to act; for me, whether the military leaves or stays, it is all the same.
“All we are advocating for is for the government to give answers to our question, as to when the girls will be back; that is our major goal, to see them rescued back alive and safe”, he stated.
Meanwhile, the Council of State yesterday rose from a meeting held in Aso Villa, Abuja, where the issue of insecurity in the country generally was discussed, and assured that the over 200 girls kidnapped some 85 days ago would soon be freed from their captors.
Akwa-Ibom state governor, Godswill Akpabio, and his Edo state counterpart, Adams Oshiomhole, who addressed newsmen at the end of the meeting, said President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), briefed the council on efforts being made to arrest the spate of insecurity in the country.
Akpabio said: “Top on the agenda of the meeting was the security of the nation. We were briefed by the president, and the national security adviser, on the steps that are being taken. Top on the security was the rescue of Chibok girls, which military authorities also confirmed that efforts were being made, and that very soon we will have good news.
“What also came out is the need for Nigerians to be patient, because terrorism is a new challenge and it is not something that goes away immediately; and we have to be meticulous in our approach and make sure that we take the best steps forward to reduce and minimize possible loss of lives in an attempt to curb the insurgents.
“We are very satisfied the security agents know very well where the girls are located and they are on top of the situation. The other issue was the appointment of certain commissioners in the National Population Commission and the states that have not filled their quota were today (yesterday) ratified and approved. The council was duly consulted, in line with the constitutional provision for Ekiti State, Yobe, Jigawa Zamfara and Kebbi, where their commissioners were ratified and approved by Council.
Equally, commenting on gone outcome of the meeting, Oshiomhole said: “On security, we got to recognize the fact that few years back, most of us will swear that there can be a Nigerian who would be a suicide bomber. Nigerians enjoy life; but we now know that there are some of us who are willing to play the role of a suicide bomber”.
In attendance at the meeting were Gen. Yakubu Gowon, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar, Chief Ernest Shonekan, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Senate President David Mark, House of Representatives Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, former chief justices of Nigeria, Muhammad Lawal Uwais and Salihu Modibbo Alfa Belgore.
Governors at the meeting include those of Delta, Adamawa, Ebonyi, Enugu, Niger Kaduna, Abia, Bayelsa, Kebbi, Akwa Ibom, Gombe, Cross River, Kogi, Bauchi and Taraba states, while the deputy governors of Yobe, Ondo, Jigawa and Benue states represented their bosses.